Here I was in the late summer of 2019 with a completed young adult novel and no place to go. I knew I had revisions ahead of me, so I returned to the advice of my old friend, Margo Dill, from Women on Writing (WOW). She has a website Editor 911 devoted to helping authors in several categories, and I wanted her to read my work, edit , and comment on weaknesses and strengths. Since I worked with her on WOW, I had a discount but her fee was still reasonable, well worth the cost.
She did a great job and I was delighted to get a printed copy back from her with edits and a lengthy letter outlining those factors. Actually, she found more strengths than I did and less weaknesses than I did. Pretty good! She also had publishing recommendations which were helpful.
I want to give a shout out to my friends and writing partners, Dee Boling, Xavier DeSoto, and Doug Stevens, all writers themselves, who took interest in my work and stuck with me. It really does take help from others to get a writing project off the ground.
I began the job of researching and in a former blog, I wrote about query and the work of looking at samples online and writing over and over until you get that one page you feel might make an impression and get a nod from some kind agent. I did not. As a tip, I regret not writing about my themes in my query; I believe my theme of racial tension is important in the novel and would be of interest to more agents. Instead, I focused on the pregnancy and the sexual assualt, both important themes to today’s reader, but this is such an important moment to write about attitudes towards race.
Another shout out to Shannon Thompson, author of many novels who focuses on young adult and a really neat person. You can follow here on Twitter and Facebook where she maintains an interesting, often carefree, presence.
Back to me. When it became pretty obvious, I couldn’t get an agent – YET -I began researching independent authors, These are traditional publishers, but I will tell you, you must follow their submission guidelines, and they vary. You might not want to go forward when you read some of them. If you don’t follow their guidelines, they will not respond. If they request a fee for ANYTHING, you are in the self-publishing domain, which is fine if that’s want you want to do. I determined early on I didn’t want to self-publish my first novel. I wanted to learn more about publishing and marketing. BTW, no matter who you publish with, you will have to help with the marketing. It’s quite possible I will do self publish next time, but for now, I needed help. I had been through several surgeries and didn’t know squat about publishing, so I went through Black Rose Printing. in Texas. Haven’t paid them a dime, and more than satisficed.
That’s where I am today. My novel, CC’s Road home, will be released January, 2021, and I hope to do a cover reveal very soon on this website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I am very excited to say the least and those links are on my homepage.
If you would like a sample query letter or the website I researched to find independent traditional publishers, give me your email address on my home page and comment as to what I can help you with.
The title of this article is taken from #amwiting last year. Another writer discussed how difficult it is to keep working with physical ailments. Some folks know a little of my story. I have not divulged a great deal about what happened to me because I was so engrossed in a comeback to my writing.
For me it all started with a rotator cuff shoulder surgery which went haywire. In March, 2018, I underwent a reverse shoulder replacement –left – which is also my dominant side. During that surgery the surgeon fractured my humerus, my upper arm, which in turn cut the radial nerve. I ended up with a replacement, rod and screws and an inability to use my left hand at all due to drop wrist.
It gor very complicated. Soon after the replacement surgery, my physical therapist determined I developed lymphedema of the left arm. This caused me to see three different therapists every week for several weeks for shoulder therapy, hand therapy, and lymphedema. I had breast cancer of both left and right breasts but I had been in remission for 18 years by that time. Never had that type of swelling before this, but when it started, it was a mess to say the least and hindered the progress of restoring function to shoulder, arm and hand. The physical and occupational therapists and I never gave up.
I wish I could say I was able to lift my arm, straighten my elbow and use my hand, but that was not the ease. It took aa lot of work at therapy for two years and home exercises. It also took a couple of more surgeries. I had a neuropathy (nerve surgery) in January, 2019, which didn’t take. Then in February, right before the quarantine, I had a tendon transfer to hopefully restore the use of my hand. The picture in the full cast at the top of the page is about six weeks after that surgery.
So what happened with my writing? In March, 2018, I had written 16 chapters of my novel, CC’S Road Home. After the surgery, I was tied up completely with the therapies and medical appointments. Frankly, I didn’t think about it. Also, I couldn’t write longhand – I had wrist drop. At the beginning of 2019, I started journaling about my experiences with Cortana and using a headset to write orally. I hated it, but plowed ahead. I tried to do the same to write my novel, but soon learned I could not write fiction orally.
On the one year anniversary of the surgery, March, 2019, I woke up and thought, “I’m going to just sit and write. One hand. My right hand.”
And that’s what I did. I proceeded to create and type my novel with the fingers of my right hand. By October, I had written 48,000 words, twenty eight -28- chapters to complete CC’S Road Home.
What ensued next was research to learn how to query and the process of siubmission, all with my right hand. As you probably know, there is more to this story. In the next blog I will write about how I found a publisher and how I got published, and what happened because of the hand surgery this year.
For now, this is what I have to say on how it got hard, what I did when it got hard, and how to keep going when it gets hard. LBE
How does it begin? Seems simple on the face of it. Meet a publisher or agent at a conference, get their card, and snail mail a copy of your manuscript or send a manuscript file as an attachment. Seems simple enough, right? And in some rare cases, and I do mean rare, it might work. On a good day, your contact might not have one hindred- or more – submissions on the desk, read your carefully typed and edited -I hope- and jump up to say, “This is it! The story I’ve been waiting for!”
This is a great dream, and may work in very rare cases. But what I soon discovered (for me and everyone has her own journey) as I completed the first draft of my young adult 80,000 word novel, it would take work, and I mean a lot of work to delve into the world of publication. First, I had to do a lot of research. And I had to find out what a query looked like. I was helped in those steps by a couple of people. First, my good friend Val, suggested I contact Shannon A. Thonpson on Messenger. I’ve been talking with Val for years, but had no idea he knew so much about publishing. Which alerted me to an important piece of info, research through people you know. Throw the idea out there and see what comes back.
I contacted Shannon and she messaged me. In case you don’t know, she is an accomplished author, having written the successful Bad Bloods series. and other YA novels. She sent a couple of valuable links to me about finding an agent and writing a query letter – the latter article I lived by in the process that followed. She is a terrific person, and if you go to her website, sign up for her newsletter. Fun, informative articles. BTW, a great one in July about how to query.
The research had just begun. I found lists of agents and publishers easily enough, but the next step is to survey the genre, characters, themes each may be looking for. Once I narrowed a list down, I took notes on each publisher or agents submission policy. I read more than once, follow the submission policy, and they make it clear: in the world of publishing, if you don’t, they will toss your precious piece of work.
Which leads to writing a query letter. Imagine taking a 300 page novel and writing a one sentence hook, a less than 200 word synopsis, and adding in whatever other details are requested, all in less than 400 words. If you can keep it at 300, great! Understand that, the recipient will usually just look at the hook, the one sentence descriptive, and decide whether or not to keep reading, asking that big time question, “Do I care about this? Will it sell? Why would I read this?” The hook is exactly that, hook, grab, coerce, beg, plead, shock, goad, -whatever – to interest the individual enough to read my synopsis and then to read my first 20 pages, if it was even requested in the submission guidelines. And, oh! make sure you don’t send in an attachment unless… that’s a whole topic. I had to learn a lot about copying and not just pasting. I’m not kidding. Everyone is nervous about opening attachments now.
If you’ve read this far, fill out my contact info on my home page (if you haven’t done so) or contact blurb at bottom right of this page, and I will send you my first query letter, which is pretty good I think. As an attachment of course!
It’s another beautiful day here in New Orleans. October brings with it sunny, mild weather and I’m really looking forward to getting outside for a walk. But before I do, I want to write about my PLATFORM. As I began writing my novel, I also checked around with other writers on websites and YouTube. As I did, I read about the importance of creating a platform. The advice out there was to get it going about a year before publishing your work. That seemed premature to say the least. What would I write about on a website? What would I post on Facebook? What could I possibly contribute on Twitter? You get the idea. Looking back, I understand the advice I was getting. First, it takes a while to get all of the media in place. Second, you hope to get a following to help when your work is published. Third, it helps me to establish my own interest in what I’m trying to accomplish. Namely, to write and publish a work of fiction that others will want to read. Creating a platform to generate interest is a wonderful opportunity, and isn’t it great that we have the technology to do it? I’m still working at it. As you can see, I have links on my homepage to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It takes work – and fun- to check your media and not only share what you’re doing, but to also follow writers, agents, publishers, friends, etc. My advice is to grab someone who understands what you’re trying to do to help in the creation of your platform. I’m fortunate my daughter in law, Elisa, is an excellent media strategist and librarian. She helped with my website, and, believe me, I couldn’t have done it without her. Next, I’m going to take one of my young friends, someone under twenty- five, for coffee to help me work on my new Facebook page and Instagram. I also belong to a newly formed marketing group with members willing to help each other. Teamwork, right! I wish you luck if you’re just beginning the journey in writing, publishing, marketing, wherever you are.. Have fun! Let us know how you’re doing.
Greetings to all on a beautiful Monday in New Orleans. So I’ll start with the ‘city that care forgot’ today. I am expecting some out of town guests later this fall who have only been to this wonderful place for two days, and of course, they visited the French Quarter when they weren’t in conferences. Good choice but so much more to enjoy. Day or night, one of the most magivcal things to do is a streetcar ride. And it is a must to ride the St. Charles Avenue line. Always a winner. You will be riding the oldest continuously running streetcar in the entire world. It was made an historical landmark in 1973, and you will see so much history on St. Charles. Mansions sit quietly in full view as you look out your window and enjoy the beautiful oak tree canopy, shading the street and pedestrians who stroll leisurely on narrow sidewalks. During the 1960’s arguments surfaced about the need to abandon the system, especially in the downtown area, to allow for more automobile traffic. But New Orleanians never wavered in their loyalty. So much so, that in 2004 another streetcar line started rumbling on its way connecting The North Carollton Avenue, Mid City area with downtown New Orleans. You can jump on the car pictured below and ride all the way to Canal Street, the Mississippi River, The French Quarter and more. The street car ride is truly an experience to remember.